Photo copyright Lisa Hazlegreaves
As I’ve already mentioned in previous posts in our house there is one member who is not a Doctor Who fan or indeed a fan of anything remotely science fiction. This would be Father. One of the main things that makes Father screw up his face in distaste is the complexity of Time Travel, the way a Doctor Who story can make a massive U-turn because of some paradox or other. The most frustrating thing for me about all of this is, it all just drops into place in my brain as I’m watching and in my head I do that ‘ahhhhh now I get it’ or ‘ahhhhh good plot line’ but, BUT if I then have to explain it to a confused Father who is laughing at the outrageous story that has got our favourite Doctor out of scrape it doesn’t matter how hard I try his brain just isn’t made that way. I’m not sure if it’s because since being very small I have been a huge sci fi fan, I watched Doctor Who as a child along with Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, I’ve read hundreds of books, all the usual ones, Lord of the Rings, Shannara, Gormenghast, I loved Blakes 7, Star Trek and Babylon 5. My head has been full of fantasy creatures and time travelling paradox’s since the word go. Father has come to this unwillingly through the love of his children and finds himself sitting watching with us, confused and dazed.
Now I know as yet time travel doesn’t exist but there have been some brilliant papers written about the subject and as any good geek is aware you can Google time travel or paradox and hundreds of pages will pop up trying to explain the theory. I’ve done this, I am that geek that has Googled time paradox as an aid to trying to explain it to Father. I remember using ‘The Bootstrap Paradox Theory’ to try and explain it to him, let me see if you my reader can get a handle on it.
The Bootstrap Paradox Theory
This theory has been used countless times in Doctor Who, here goes...
On his 30th birthday, a man who wishes to build a time machine is visited by a future version of himself. This future self explains to him that he should not worry about designing the time machine, as he has done it in the future. The man receives the schematics from his future self and starts building the time machine. Time passes until he finally completes the time machine. He then uses it to travel back in time to his 30th birthday, where he gives the schematics to his past self, closing the loop. (borrowed this paragraph from Wikipedia)
An example of this from Doctor Who is in a Tennant episode called Blink featuring those wonderfully terrifying monsters The Weeping Angels. In this story The Doctor records a message in 1969, that is one half of a conversation. The other half of the conversation is completed by a character named Sally when she watches the video in 2007 and her friend transcribes the conversation. The completed transcript of the full conversation is handed back to The Doctor in 2008 (this is before The Doctor has travelled back to 1969 in his timeline) therefore he can use this transcript to create his half of the conversation later....confused? Sally was in the story and The Doctor explained it to her by explaining that most people think of time like a ‘swift progression of cause to effect’ when it is actually ‘a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff’
I think Tennant’s Doctor got it right, and I use this line repeatedly when I see Fathers face getting that derogatory look on it....’shhh I say its wibbly wobbly, timey wimey, that’s all you need to know’